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Three Essays on the Mahabharata: Exercises in Literary Hermeneutics
Sibaji Bandyopadhyay
Price : ₹ 1050.00  
ISBN : 978-81-250-6071-0
Language : English
Pages : 356
Binding : Hardback
Book Size : 140 x 216 mm
Year : 2015
Series :
Territorial Rights : World
Imprint : No Image
About the Book

Three Essays on the Mahabharata investigates what the Mahabharata and the Gita mean today, how that meaning has been constituted, and how it is exploited to fashion the practice of everyday Indian politics.

Treating these hallowed texts as ‘pre-texts’ to gain a more nuanced understanding of India’s colonial and pre-colonial discourses on the meaning of the Indian ‘essence’, the author underscores that the forty-seventh verse of the second chapter of the Gita (Gita 2.47—ma phale?u kadacana) is now unanimously accepted as the kernel verse. By situating pre-modern commentaries on 2.47 with modern commentaries on and translations of the same, the author demonstrates that a series of conceptual shifts have accompanied the process of consecrating the verse to the highest rank.

Together, the three essays in this book deal with:

  1. The political ramifications of both the form and the content of Gita 2.47 through nineteenth and twentieth-century commentaries on and translations of the Gita;

  2. The style of narration of the Mahabharata War, and the significance of the disquiet expressed by several modern commentators;

  3. The ethical significance of the term An??amsaya (‘non-cruelty’ / ‘leniency’), which functions as a middle term between ‘violence’ and ‘non-violence’ in the Mahabharata, and the long shadow it casts on the question of ethical propriety in the domain of political practice.

Rather than offering yet another alternative interpretation of either the Mahabharata or the Gita, this book looks at the subtle processes through which pre-modern categories are transformed by modern mediations, and how these provide for a retrospective analysis of texts composed centuries ago. This deeply interesting and unique work will be invaluable to students of cultural studies and philosophy.

Table of Contents


Arindam Chakrabarti


Essay 1. Translating Gita 2.47 or Inventing the National Motto


I. The Puzzle of Particles

II. The Two Speech-acts

III. The Pre-modern Takes on Gita 2.47

IV. Gita’s Westward Journey—The Beginning

V. Gita Enters the World-stage

VI. Towards Gita 2.47—The Western Route

VII. Karma and its Modern Mutations

VIII. Adhikara and its Modern Mutations

IX. Towards Gita 2.47—The Indian Route

IX.A: Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay

IX.B: The Swadeshi Intervention

IX,C: Bal Gangadhar Tilak

IX.D: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

X. The Modern Conceptual Network




Essay 2. Seeing and Saying: A Reflection on the Mahabharata’s War-reportage

I. A Worrying Interruption

II. The Problematic Frame

III. Utopia and Dystopia

IV. Time-swing and Space-shift

V. Battle on the Field Proper

VI. Forgetting and Remembering



Essay 3. A Critique of Non-violence

I. A New Concept

II. A Competing Construct

III. The Foundational Antimony

IV. Of Consumption

V. Anarchy of Non-possession

VI. Anatomy of Violence


About the Author


Contributors (Author(s), Editor(s), Translator(s), Illustrator(s) etc.)

Sibaji Bandyopadhyay is former Professor of Cultural Studies, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC), Kolkata. He is also former Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.